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5G: DoT urges space department, defence to vacate spectrum for 5G services – Latest News

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The Department of Telecom (DoT) has urged the space department and defence ministry to vacate airwaves in the medium and high range spectrum bands for rolling out 5G services, according to sources. The issue was discussed in a meeting of a committee formed under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba to resolve spectrum related issues, they added.

Differences among the DoT, Department of Space (DoS) and the defence ministry have led to delay in rollout of 5G services in the country.

The government had set a target to launch 5G services by 2020 but sources said the auction of spectrum can be held only in early 2021 if the issues are resolved in time.

The DoT has requested the defence ministry to vacate 100 megahertz (Mhz) of spectrum in the frequency band of 3300-3400 Mhz and use frequencies in the 3000-3100 Mhz band.

It has urged the DoS to vacate spectrum in the frequency band of 3600-3700 Mhz, the sources said.

“The DoT is now looking for 400 Mhz of contiguous spectrum in the medium band which can be efficiently utilised by telecom operators to meet standard broadband speed for 5G services,” a government source told .

E-mailed queries sent to the DoT, DoS and the defence ministry in this regard did not elicit an immediate response.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has given price recommendation only on spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz band for the next round of auction based on reference sought by the DoT.

Trai has recommended a price of Rs 492 crore per megahertz for spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz band.

Telecom operators interested in buying radiowaves for 5G services will have to shell out a minimum of Rs 9,840 crore on pan-India basis to buy spectrum in the 3,300-3,600 Mhz band as Trai has suggested that it “should be put to auction in the block size of 20 MHz”.

According to technical experts, a telecom operator will need at least 80-100 Mhz of spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz band to achieve 5G standard.

Bharti Airtel has said it will not bid for this spectrum at the Trai-recommended price as companies will need to shell out about Rs 50,000 crore to acquire decent quantity of frequencies in this band.

“The scope of the committee under the cabinet secretary has now been expanded to discuss all spectrum bands including V-band that can be used for mobile services and their prices,” another source said.

The first meeting of the committee was held on Monday and the second on Wednesday to fast track 5G deployment.

The DoT has also requested the space department to leave its claim on high frequency band of 26 Ghz to make available at least 3000 Mhz of spectrum for 5G services as has been decided by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which sets global benchmarks for wireless services, at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) 2019.

The DoS, however, has raised concerns over possible interference of 5G signals in data collection by satellites for weather forecast which is crucial in the wake of climate change.

The DoT had earlier accepted the demand of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to keep the 26 Ghz band, in which the 5G ecosystem has been developed, primarily for satellite services.

The DoT had presented a proposal before WRC in line with the ISRO’s demand but the same was rejected by the ITU.

“DoT has now proposed that the decision of WRC should be implemented in India which will also be in line with the global ecosystem,” the source added.

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